The Texico Lady Wolverines have been regular contenders in Class 2A basketball for a long time.
But they were hard-hit by graduation off last year's state championship team, and recently lost 6-foot-1 senior post Shaylee Anderson to a season-ending knee injury.
That has left the Lady Wolverines looking for new ways to score. On Thursday, in the opener of the Plateau Wireless Holiday Classic at Rock Staubus Gym, Class 4A power Gallup used constant pressure defense to wear down Texico in a 50-23 victory.
Playing just their second game since losing Anderson in the finals of the Farwell Invitational on Dec. 8, the Lady Wolverines grabbed an early 4-0 lead but couldn't stay with the Lady Bengals (8-1), whose only loss was to Clovis in the finals of their tournament, also on Dec. 8.
"I felt like we didn't execute as well as we needed," said Texico coach Richard Luscombe, whose team faces the Lady Wildcats in a 6 p.m. game today. "We made a lot of mental turnovers that, hopefully, we can get corrected.
"I thought overall we played too tentative."
Gallup used a 14-2 run to open a 12-point lead late in the half before the Lady Wolverines (5-3) pulled to 21-12 at the break. Three-pointers by Kaylee Tsinginie, Tilea Reyna and Rebecca Smith helped the Lady Bengals open the margin to 19 points by the end of the third stanza.
"I thought we played better in the second half," Gallup coach Kamau Turner said. "I really thought Texico was a good team.
"In the end, I think we just wore them down, but actually they did a better job of breaking our press (in the first half) than anyone else has."
Sophomore forward Rachelle Blackgoat led the Lady Bengals with 11 points while Tsinginie, a junior guard, finished with 10. Senior McKenzi Mayfield was Texico's high scorer with eight points.
"When you don't finish (on offense), sometimes it carries over to the next play," Luscombe said. "We play hard, but there's just certain things that we can't afford to do poorly."
Gallup faces Amarillo Caprock in a 2:45 p.m. tipoff today.